“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia Woolf
In October of 2014, I launched a dream within a dream, Her International Inc., a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that funds female-driven projects that address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Her International is an unconventional organization that goes against most non-profit organizations who offer funding to individuals. Why unconventional? Well, we don't require individuals to have undergraduate degrees, or even high school diplomas. With that said, the application process is indeed very strict and intensive to ensure that we are putting our funds into the hands of individuals who have worked diligently towards actively achieving their goals. We're aware that not everyone displays the success or fame that people like Billionaire Innovator Richard Branson, Model Gisele Bündchen, Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, Princess Diana, Theme Park Pioneer Walt Disney or even the Inventor of the Lightbulb, Thomas Edison, who all dropped out of High School. More realistically, I fall into the college dropout crowd which includes people like Billionaire Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, Apple Creator Steve Jobs, Talk Show Host Ellen Degeneres or Historical Talk Show Host Oprah Winfrey, all of whom disregarded the "norm" and what society told them to do, and dropped out of college. "Yeah, but those people are rare", you might be saying to yourself. And I have to disagree with you. Look who you're reading about right now, me, a woman who has made history and traveled to every country in the world, resulting in a wildly successful career. No, I'm not a billionaire, but I've made history in travel and continue to be recognized and honored for my achievements and career growth to this day, with no sign of slowing down. Like the others, it took time and dedication for my works and achievements to be noticed, but I can tell you that college didn't get me any further with my goals.
The fall of 2010 I decided was to be my last semester of college. After bouncing around to 5 colleges across 5 states and 3 countries and with only one semester to go in order to graduate, I came to the conclusion that I was just wasting money I didn't have as well as valuable time that could have better been spent working towards a career that I wanted to pursue. Instead of pursuing my career in travel at the age of 18, I went on to waste 3.5 years accumulating $90,000 in debt, failing math and science courses, and being told by Career Councilors that I could be a Flight Attendant or Tour Guide if I wanted to pursue travel as a career. My dream career was to be a Meteorologist and Storm Chaser, but failing math and science classes like Oceanography, Statistics and Geology really held me back. When I dropped out, I decided to start my own business at the age of 21, that would allow me to pursue travel for the next 2 years off the $2,000 I'd saved the summer before from Lifeguarding. This is discussed in greater depth in my book, set to launch this fall. One business lead me to another, which eventually lead me to Expedition 196 and a very lucrative self-sustained business that allowed me the freedom and financial means to launch Her International.
Just because I dropped out did not mean I had things easy. In fact, when it came to securing funding for Expedition 196, I had a very difficult time doing so. Many non-profit organizations and companies in general, would deny my grant applications for funding, and many companies were reluctant to providing me funding because I was a woman not only traveling alone to some of the worlds most dangerous countries, but I didn't have a college education, either. When it comes to obtaining endorsements prior to achieving any career success, companies look to your resume to then decide your candidacy and proof of dedication. Needless to say, I was rejected over and over again because of my lack of college education. It took a few individuals who believed in me to give me a chance, and it required letting go of all of my jokester and immaturity I had left in me, in order to grow up and become a professional adult at the age of 25. I had to delete my old Facebook, drop old friendships (mostly because I became boring and professional), and essentially become a hermit working in my studio for months on end in order to prove myself to sponsors and the organizations who endorsed me.
Thanks to Google, I was able to create the perfect recipe that would land conversations with CEO's and companies for sponsorship. It required a quick, one paragraph pitch, a media deck, and a lengthly proposal.
The bottom line is, it didn't matter that I didn't graduate college because I dedicated myself for a year and a half, sanctioned to my "cave" in order to do everything in my power to succeed. Thankfully, after some time, companies saw my efforts and decided to take heed. But the time it took for them to do so, would make any young woman want to give up and throw in the towel. Any women (or person in general) mustn't give up, and sometimes it takes years of daily dedication in order to finally have a break through. If I can be one small help to a woman who is trying desperately to succeed in her Mission in a time when she's trying her hardest to break the glass ceiling and enhance the world we live in, then that to me is enough. That is all I could ask for. To leave a positive legacy behind for our world beginning with the women of our world.
To learn more about Her International and to apply, visit the link here.